Children have a natural love for music. They love a good tune with an energetic beat. It’s amazing what music can do for a kid. As a powerful stimulant, music can alter your child’s mood instantly and create new bonds and memories. We all have our personal stories of using music to calm a colicky baby or playing a favorite lullaby to put our little one(s) to sleep. Music can also make time fly away on a long car ride. And, let’s not forget the role that music plays in learning!
Music is an inherent part of our nature and who we are in so many ways. Our experiences with music start in early childhood and unquestionably last a lifetime. Extensive research has shown lately that exposing children to music stimulates their overall intelligence and emotional development. Having children listen to different types of music also nurtures their self-esteem while encouraging creativity, self-confidence and curiosity.
What the Research Says: The International Foundation of Music Research, based at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has produced many publications on the benefits of music on early brain development. There is substantial evidence indicating that babies are aware of and respond to music and different sounds inside their mother’s womb. Hundreds of thousands of nerve cells are sprouting miraculously in an unborn baby’s brain. At birth, a baby’s brain development still remains incomplete. Moments after birth, a baby may turn in the direction of a voice or sound, searching for the source. Newborns quickly learn to recognize their mother’s voice from others and they are able to respond to changes in a person’s voice or pitch before they reach their first birthday — often by moving their arms and legs or babbling and cooing. A child’s brain develops its full potential when exposed to enriching experiences in early childhood. Stimuli received in early childhood are crucial to brain growth and the development of important connections made in nerve cell networks.
Music and Intelligence. Can listening to music actually make smarter adults of the future? Recent data from the University of Texas indicated that those students who received an arts education that included music received higher SAT scores. Many studies have shown that music can benefit cognitive abilities, particularly spatial abilities, higher reasoning and motor skills, and higher achievements in language and math. And, there’s been a lot of media coverage in recent years about the Mozart Effect: the effect that passive listening to the music of certain classical composers has on a child’s intelligence.
There are certainly other measures of smartness in addition to a person’s brain intelligence. For example, music has also shown to increase overall intelligence by shaping the types of attitudes, interests and discipline within children. Many types of music can be inspiring and incredibly motivational, thereby helping children focus and improve their listening skills. Music can give children the self-confidence and self-esteem they need to succeed in many academic areas or in defining personality traits as they grow older.
Many researchers believe that the earlier a child is exposed to music, the more the brain responds to different music tones. We know that children are easily able to imitate musical phrases and songs. As toddlers, they love to bang on pots and pans, searching for that certain beat that they play over and over again – it’s their way of expressing their feelings and emotions. As they get older, they sing, improvise, move and dance and are often introduced to instruments and formal music instruction.
Is All the Scientific Research Overrated? In general terms, it basically confirms what we already know – that as human beings, music is an inherent part of who we really are, and its exposure during a child’s early years can have significant effects on their overall well-being that last well into adulthood. If anything, the research has made us more aware of the value of introducing our children to music while they are very young. What’s most important is that we provide our children with a rich and varied environment that promotes their overall growth and development. Music can definitely play a key role in creating an enriching and stimulating environment for your child.
Bring the Joy of Music to Your Child’s Life: Creative Ideas to Explore as a Family
Remember way back in the ‘50s and ‘60s when families used to gather around the piano in the evenings and sing songs together? Over the years, we seem to have lost this family past time, but there are still things that families can do to pass the joy of music on to future generations. There are many fun and inexpensive ways for parents to explore music with their children. Here are some interesting ideas you may want to try with your child:
• Sing With Your Child – You may not be the next American Idol, but chances are your child will think of you as their idol even if you can’t carry a tune – young children won’t notice and you’ll probably have a lot of fun together.
• Make Music with Things Around the House –Get creative and look for every day things that you can transform into a musical instrument. How about making maracas out of plastic bottles: simply fill them with some dry beans and seal for a couple of instant shakers.
• Introduce Your Child to Different Types of Music – Add variety to your child’s life by playing a different type of music each day, whether it’s classical, country, rock, rap, big band, jazz, hits of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, camp songs, or simply good old-fashioned children’s music.
• Buy a Harmonica, Recorder or Kazoo – A cheap way to introduce your child to an instrument and have them experiment with creating different sounds and tunes.
• Let Your Child See You Play the Piano – If you play the piano or any other instrument, involve your child: have her sit on your lap while you play a few notes and talk about the parts of the instrument, or explore the keyboard together.
• Try a Music Class – There are so many classes available and some of them are surprisingly affordable. Pick one that offers a good variety of activities such as music making with different instruments, music play and movement, and music listening. Also try to select a class that’s age-appropriate.
• Music is a Performance – Kids love to perform. Just put on a favorite CD or tape and encourage your children to dance, sing, and enjoy themselves. Check out Chipper’s CD of fun, eco-educational songs!
• Try Personalized Music – People are discovering personalized music in a big way. Personalized music is really about children’s songs that have been customized to play your child’s name. They can bring hours of fun and enjoyment to your family – just imagine the look of surprise and wonder when your kids hear their name being sung in their favorite songs. Personalized CDs can spark creativity and boost self-confidence in your child, making her feel very special when she hears her name being sung many times in her favorite song.
By taking the time to explore the benefits that music can offer your family, you’ll be uncovering something priceless: your child’s imagination and inner sense of creativity and self-expression. Who knows — they may become very passionate about a certain type of music, or want to play an instrument, become a Broadway performer, or simply just want to sing because it makes them feel good. Moreover, you’ll be creating great family memories that will last a lifetime. Let’s Go Chipper for Music!